Forming priests for the diocese

Fr. Ben Sawyer is a professor of systematic theology and a formation advisor at the St. Louis, Missouri, seminary. (Courtesy photo)

Fr. Ben Sawyer at Kenrick-Glennon helping the future priests of the diocese

Fr. Ben Sawyer isn’t working in the Diocese of Wichita but his work impacts the diocese. He is helping to form the priests who will serve the faithful of the diocese.

He is a formation advisor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where several men from the Diocese of Wichita are studying.

“I’m beginning my third year here at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and loving it,” he said last week. “I assist men in listening to God, being honest with Him, and moving with Him. As a formation advisor, my role is to see that the man’s human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation is integrated.”

Helps with seminarian formation

That would include making sure the seminarian is working with his spiritual director, with his professors, and with a counselor when necessary, Fr. Sawyer said.
“A man in seminary formation will be attentive to his own humanity and to how God is working in his spiritual life. This will allow him to see how God desires to work through his humanity and how he can be an instrument of grace.”

That’s just one of his duties. He is also a professor of systematic theology, which teaches an orderly account of the doctrines of the faith.
Fr. Sawyer teaches about the Trinity, the Sacrament of Marriage, and Mariology.

“It’s really a lot of fun to teach Trinity, a class for first-year theologians,” he said. “You’re getting them in their first year of theology and you’re teaching them not only the content of Trinitarian theology, but you’re also teaching them the method: how to think theologically, how to engage scripture, the Fathers of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, the magisterium. How to think with these great thinkers.”

Understanding of marriage crucial

Teaching about the Sacrament of Marriage is crucial, he said, “not only so that the seminarian knows the doctrine regarding marriage, but also that he is aware of the contemporary challenges and cultural confusion regarding marriage, sexuality, and the family. It is important that he develops a capacity to respond creatively to those challenges so that he can lead others to the joy and freedom that Jesus desires to bring his people.”

Kenrick-Glennon has a pre-theology and theology program but Fr. Sawyer is involved only with the theology students, those who already have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He works with between 15 and 20 seminarians as a formation advisor and from about a dozen to about two dozen men in his classes.

Fr. Sawyer has a licentiate in dogmatic theology, a degree he received in 2017 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.